Plaintiff claims wrongful termination after employer tries to accommodate after on-the-job injury. Defense. Orange County.


Employer says they gave her three different jobs in an attempt to accommodate her injury.

The Case

  • Case Name: Juana Garcia v. Terra Universal, Inc., et al.
  • Court and Case Number: Orange County Superior Court / 30-2019-01098512-CU-WT-CJC
  • Date of Verdict or Judgment: Wednesday, April 19, 2023
  • Date Action was Filed: Friday, March 01, 2019
  • Type of Case: Discrimination, ADA, Employment, Wrongful Termination
  • Judge or Arbitrator(s): Hon. Erick L. Larsh
  • Plaintiffs:
    Juana Garcia, 54
  • Defendants:
    Terra Universal, Inc., Arturo Ochoa, Cynthia Arevalo
  • Type of Result: Jury Verdict

The Result

  • Gross Verdict or Award: Defense verdict.
  • Trial or Arbitration Time: 3 weeks
  • Jury Deliberation Time: 1 day
  • Jury Polls: 10-2
  • Post Trial Motions & Post-Verdict Settlements: None as of May 11, 2023.

The Attorneys

  • Attorney for the Plaintiff:

    Gamliel Law, P.C. by Alexis Gamliel, Los Angeles.

    Tran Law Firm, APLC by Derek Tran, Huntington Beach.

  • Attorney for the Defendant:

    Law Office of Robert D. Coviello by Robert Coviello, San Juan Capistrano.

    Arminak Law, APC by Tamar G. Arminak, Glendale.

The Experts

  • Plaintiff's Technical Experts:
    Phillip Sidlow, Economist

Facts and Background

  • Facts and Background:

    Plaintiff was hired by defendant, Terra Universal, Inc. (“Terra”), a manufacturer of laboratory equipment, as a janitor on July 10, 2017. Upon finding plaintiff asleep on the job, Terra transferred plaintiff to the Assembly Department, where plaintiff was injured on March 8, 2018. Two days after the incident, Terra received a fax that included a Work Status Summary from Gateway Urgent Care Center. The Work Status Summary noted plaintiff’s current work restrictions, which included “Restrictions – Back, Bilateral Back Restrictions Include: - Lifting, pushing, or pulling limitations: No Lifting, No Pushing and No Pulling, No bending or twisting, Must use DME at all times” commencing on March 19, 2018 through March 26, 2018.

    As a result of plaintiff’s work restrictions and in a purported effort to accommodate plaintiff, defendants transferred plaintiff from the Assembly Department to the Electronics Department. However, as defendants alleged plaintiff was unable to perform the essential job duties in the Electronics Department, she was transferred to "stickers" within the Electronics Department for alleged further accommodation. While assigned to stickers, plaintiff experienced pain in her hands, and according to defendants, was unable to perform her essential job duties.

    Plaintiff was terminated from her position on July 19, 2018.


  • Plaintiff's Contentions:

    That plaintiff was harassed and discriminated against on the basis of her injury and disability and was harassed and retaliated against for the protected activity of  filing a workers' compensation matter. That because of the defendants’ wrongful conduct, plaintiff suffered past and future lost wages and past and future emotional distress.

    All of plaintiff's claims at trial included:

    (1) Discrimination on the Basis of Disability; (2) Harassment on the Basis of Disability; (3) Retaliation under FEHA; (4) Retaliation in Violation of the Labor Code; (5) Failure to Provide Reasonable Accommodation; (6) Failure to Engage in an Interactive Process; (7) Wrongful Termination in Violation of Public Policy.

  • Defendant's Contentions:

    That plaintiff was accommodated after her workplace injury several times, yet continued to claim she was working too hard and could not do any jobs assigned to her. That plaintiff filed a second workers' comp case alleging carpal tunnel after being transferred to electronics, which resulted in her being placed in stickers, where she complained she was working too hard. After being placed on "sticker" duty, the easiest position in the company, she still refused to do her job and thus was terminated until such time as she recovered enough to work again. Defendants denied all other allegations.

Injuries and Other Damages

  • Emotional distress and lost wages, past and future, Plaintiff sought $2,150,000 from the jury.

Special Damages

  • Special Damages Claimed - Future Lost Earnings: $600,000

Demands and Offers

  • Plaintiff §998 Demand: $499,674

Additional Notes

The jury found for the defendants on all causes of action.